So you’ve decided you’re going to make an improvement: Learn a new skill, get in shape, create better habits..etc
Listen, I want you to make this happen. And I also want this to be no longer and more frustrating than it needs to be. With the right attitude, you will save yourself a ton of time when trying to make an improvement in your life.
So if you tend to value yourself based on your accomplishments, this could be an important insight for you to have.
I like to accomplish things, earn rewards, immediate rewards and rewards over time. Learn new skills, even useless ones, like how to spin a pen around your fingers.
I think it’s kind of neat.
And if you’re anything like me, you get a sense of accomplishment from learning things like that. And from learning more important things like how to stay in shape, how to perfect your craft, becoming a smarter person…ect
I want to save you time.
Obviously, time is one of those non-refundable commodities.
I got the idea to write this particular piece when I remembered all the times someone had tried to tell me something. A piece of advice, a small piece of feedback, a bro-tip. All those times when I only really heard and understood them at a later date. Coming around.
Now, that’s all good I mean, the important thing is that I ended up listening right? Yes, but in the meantime time was lost in unfruitful experimentation.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. -Donald Rumsfeld
What’s going to cause you to waste time in your self-improvement endeavors is not the stuff you know. It’s not the stuff you know you don’t know either. Those things are easy to overcome because they’re right in front of you. You can see them as being clearly missing from your tool belt. If someone points it out to you that you’re missing those pieces, it won’t be hard for you to listen because it’s obvious they are right.
What will hold you back are those things you don’t even realize you’re ignorant about.
Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories. -Sun Tzu
This is ancient wisdom.
You must know your enemy if you expect to be victorious. Here, the “enemy” of you making an improvement in your life is cognitive bias. These logical errors that make it difficult for us to learn and adapt to new situations. Now, there’s a ton of cognitive biases, and at least 2 of them are relevant to our discussion:
Overconfidence bias, the tendency to think we’re “above average” in certain areas without necessarily having any proof.
Confirmation bias, the tendency to consciously take in only the feedback that confirms our current views, and reject feedback that conflicts with our current views.
Now, we’ve all been guilty of this, I’ve been guilty of this. I’m sure that’s why my sister recommended that I read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolph Dobelli. 🙂
It lays out everything you need to know about cognitive biases, and will help you get real with yourself.
This book helped me become aware of my thinking errors. In the long run that means I’m going to learn faster, make less mistakes and better decisions.
But what did it take for me to gain this advantage?
Well it took enough humility to recognize that maybe, just maybe, I had something to learn from my sister. Basically it took me giving her enough credit to think that maybe she knew something, and saw something, that I myself was blind to.
In the same way, she had to be humble enough herself, to pick up Rolf Dobelli’s book in the first place. 🙂
Learning takes humility.
Some people aren’t ready to learn.
And that’s fine you know, for a long time I didn’t take her advice either.
I didn’t pick up this book until months had passed. See at the time I didn’t write it down and frankly didn’t even mean to read it at all. I didn’t take it seriously, I didn’t think this was worth anything to ME.
I thought I knew most if not all there was to know about “thinking clearly”.
But see, here we go again with the overconfidence and confirmation bias. 🙂 I was willing to believe that, and willing to ignore the obvious signs that said: “Alex, you’re playing yourself. Just stop.”
I was still having to make sense of certain choices I’d made. And it was only when the pain of being confused about my direction in life became too great that I thought “You know what, maybe this book can help somewhat.”
Others see you from an angle you don’t get to see yourself from
And that’s what’s valuable about having people you can talk to about life. Whether that’s family, friends, mentors, counselors, therapists, coaches. It doesn’t matter, anybody who can provide feedback to you from a different perspective than your own will help you achieve things quicker, but you must be willing to listen.
Maybe you’re not at a place in your life where you’re ready to grow. Again, that’s fine because everyone advances at their own pace. But we all have roughly the same amount of time to advance. Some off us even less.
Not everybody gets to achieve what they set out to achieve. Some people get stuck and stay stuck. Some people get stuck and get sick. Some people get stuck and..worse. So if you’re lucky enough to be at a place in your life where you can see things you’d like to accomplish, and you are healthy enough to pursue those things… it’s a blessing.
Because in the end some people make it to where they’re trying to go, and others just don’t. The way I see it that’s just life.
I want you to be part of those people who do manage to build their lifestyle how they want to. But you know now that’s it’s going to require the right attitude: A modicum of humility.
Don’t let your pride get in the way
I’ve been reading this other book called Leadership & Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.
The whole point of the book is explaining how pervasive and destructive self-deception is in organizations.
- People who think they know, but don’t know.
- People who think they’re being making positive contributions, when they’re causing even more trouble.
- People who take the victim stance when they are really the perpetrators.
You know the type. (But you’ve never been the type)
And the punchline when it comes to self-deception is that often other people can see how we’re deceiving ourselves.
You and I are our own organizations. Deep down you might know how you’re holding yourself back. And if you don’t, someone in your environment might.
Look at the obvious signs
Another way you can get in touch with how your current approach to achieving your goals is working. (or not working)
You want to see if your diet/workout plan is working? Don’t try to answer that, just look in the mirror and see.
Just open your bank account.
Just look around you.
Just get in touch with your feelings, get in touch with your habitual thoughts.
That’s how you see how your current convictions are serving you.
Be careful with things you (think you) know
You might be right.
BUT… you might also be slightly wrong, or even dead wrong.
Either way, this will ultimately cause you to make mistakes and waste time.
And let’s keep in mind that even if you are right, there are situations where rules that you’ve learned or acquired just don’t apply. 🙂 It’s frustrating, but even the best laid out plans sometimes fail.
Tai Lopez is one of those very successful entrepreneurs today, and he likes to tell the story of how his first mentor Joel Salatin always used to remind him;
“Nature always laughs last.”
I like this idea because it’s pretty deep when you think about it.
If you’re fooling yourself in any way shape or form right now, it doesn’t matter.
Sooner or later, in some way or another, even through the pain of your own experience, you will eventually come to the realization of what is true and what is not true. Who was right, and who was wrong.
So if you being right doesn’t matter to nature, (the laws of nature have no regard for your ego) it pays to makes sure it matters to you.
At least that’s the interpretation I’m making.
The only question is, how much time will be wasted between now and then?
When it comes to knowledge, the degree to which you are certain does not correlate to the degree to which you are right. That’s true for you, that’s true for me.
Even as I’m writing this piece, I want to remain open to the possibility of being wrong about what I just wrote, because I know: Nature always laughs last.
I want to be able to laugh at nature and say: “Ha! You were going to teach me this lesson the hard way but GUESS WHAT, someone gave me advance notice (the keys) and I listened. You won’t make a fool out of me… “
And I want the same for you.
So if you and I just stay open to the possibility of standing corrected, we will eventually (step by step by step) move past the inaccuracies of our current thinking and through to the truth.
So that’s all I wanted to say.
If you’re someone who’s working towards some kind of improvement in your life. (Health, Wealth, Love and Happiness). It’s going to be important to have the right mindset as you’re picking up the necessary lessons.
Sometimes from people who know more than you do.
The more comfortable you are with that, the quicker you will get to where you’re trying to get.
Cheers everyone. 🙂
Want to learn more about self-learning, self-improvement, making change in your life?
- Leadership & Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute
- The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
- Tai Lopez
Tai is someone I must credit in here because he’s been such an inspiration for me, at least in terms of my reading habits and just being thirsty for self-improvement. He also spread a really positive message (when you take the time to listen) and gives out a ton of free advice and excellent service.